Environmental Studies at UVM

Sabrina Smits '14

Double major of ENVS and Forestry in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

I’ve loved mountains and skiing since before I can remember. UVM seemed like the ideal distance from my home in Massachusetts. I decided to major in both environmental studies and forestry as UVM’s Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources. My real reason for coming to school here, though, was much less tangible. The first time I came to visit I instantly felt that I could make this place home. What also drew me was the visible commitment to the environment here. While other schools bragged about LEED buildings, UVM students and faculty proved their passion for the environment to me in a way others didn’t. Now four years later, I’m struck and saddened by the fact that my time in Burlington is drawing to a close.

UVM has allowed me rich hands-on learning opportunities that have pushed the limits of my education in and out of the classroom, and in and outside of Burlington. The summer of my junior year I participated in month-long field course in Southeast Alaska through the Wild Rockies Field Institute. My Alaska experience left an indelible mark on me, and has strengthened my ENVS concentration in ecology and conservation and my already resolute commitment to the environment. I interned last summer with the U.S. Forest Service at Modoc National Forest in Alturas, California. I also spent a semester at a university in the Netherlands, worked on an undergraduate field research grant, and worked as a laboratory teaching assistant in ENVS 002 and NR 1 (a forestry course). Currently I am working on my senior thesis, for which I received an undergraduate field research grant through the university. I am studying the impacts of wind disturbance and salvage logging on forest insect populations in Chittenden County, VT.

My education in ENVS and the Rubenstein School has strengthened my practical understanding of many subjects and enhanced my love and commitment to the natural world. I have been inspired by UVM professors and by organizations such as the WRFI. After college, I see my contributions playing out in a variety of capacities working directly on issues of conservation and though activism and environmental education to encourage people to be better stewards of the earth. As Aldo Leopold wrote in A Sand County Almanac, “Conservation is a state of harmony between man and land.” I believe that cultivating this harmony is some of the most meaningful work that can be done in the environmental arena.